Saturday, July 30, 2016

NAACP calls for a moratorium on charter schools but the devil is in the (state) details

Julian Vasquez was one of the first, if not the first, to report that the NAACP called for a moratorium on charter schools. Please read his post as well as the copy of the resolution itself that he posted.

Here are my thoughts:

This is a big deal. In many cases, or at least some, civil rights groups and those representing black and Latino communities were not initially, necessarily against charters. Even if they had reservations, many saw them as an alternative to the traditional public schools TPSs) where many black and Latino have been not been served well by traditional public schools. It is easy for those of us who have been well served by traditional public schools to oppose charter schools, but it's not been a no-brainer for those who haven't been and who can blame them. That the national NAACP has essentially put their foot down on this means something.

However . . .

1. (And their resolution acknowledges this if you examine the language) charter laws are made state-by-state.  Certainly, federal policy, such as RTTT (Race to the Top) can influence the proliferation of charter schools with funding incentives (or lack thereof) and other types of support. But it's at the state level where charters are born and made and it's state laws that determine their regulation, their proliferation, and their governance structures. Every state is different. So while this will have influence at the national level, we'll have to see what individual NAACP chapters do, what each individual's state charter laws and climate is, and what state legislatures do.

2. I could be wrong but the language seems to indicate a moratorium on "privately managed charters" and perhaps even just "for-profit" charter schools. With some exceptions (and remember, this changes depending on the state), all charter schools are privately managed, meaning their governing boards or entities are privately chosen or appointed. There is no public process. (In Virginia, charter schools are permitted but they must be approved by local school bards and then they are still subject to, although not as strictly as TPSs, their governance, they are still under democratic control--we have very sound charter school laws here.) So yes, saying no more "privately managed" charter schools is kind of like saying no more charter schools. But, the distinction between "for-profit" and "non-profit" charter schools is much blurrier. For one, they can still be financed the same. Second, non-profits can still have dealings that foster profiteering and that involve corrupting profit-motives. Third, the governance of non-profits charter schools can still be private and non-democratic, which is the real issue. The funding and profit-making generally come out of the governance. To learn more about this (or maybe see what I got wrong here :) I highly recommend you read Baker and Miron's (2015) report about this.

I have had another little charter school-themed post in the works for a while which I hope to have up sometime in the next week. Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, July 28, 2016

For what it's worth, my take on Tim Kaine

As her "contact in Virginia," Diane Ravitch asked me several days ago to write a piece on her blog about Tim Kaine and Anne Holton. I agreed.

I know he didn't give the greatest speech at the convention last night. He had too much makeup on. People on twitter made all kinds of youth-pastor-dad-jokes-substitute-teacher-who-tries-to-teach-you-something jokes about him. I laughed. (But then I felt guilty about it after.) Maybe it will be in the future, but a convention like that is not his best venue. But I think that's a good thing. It means he is not slick.  You don't walk away feeling fired up but without really knowing what you're fired up about. They certainly don't always get it right, but he and his wife are in public service and politics to actually help people and make our society a better place. What a novelty.

Anyway, I hope you will read what I wrote and I hope those skeptics out there will give him a chance:
I had never heard a politician speak so earnestly and so frankly. He told his story. What stood out the most was his emphasis on local politics. He didn’t seem to see local political work as grunt work you have to do to get to next level; he saw it as the most important type of work you can do, serving the public and serving your community. 
Please read the whole thing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Of course a woman can be president

On this blog, I rarely stray from education-related topics. (I also rarely post these days, but hey, I'm trying to change that).

I get it that Hillary Clinton made history tonight by being the first woman to capture the nomination for president from one of the two major parties. I get that it will encourage other women to run. I get that it's a big deal. I have never been a Hillary hater or even disliker. In fact, I have always kind of liked her.

But I found that little video bit at the end of tonight's (Tuesday, July 26th) convention program to be, well, kind of patronizing. Because you know what? I don't need Hillary to tell my little girl (who, for the record, was not up by then) that she can be president for her to believe it. I teach her that just as my mom taught me that. It's as if we and our daughters and our mothers need to hear that to feel worthy of it. What my mother and so many other women have accomplished, was that not enough for us to know? It was certainly enough for me.

I suppose it's also hard to think of Hillary's nomination as such an achievement when it is so past due. Then again, I also come from, on both sides, a line of very strong, independent women, most of whom worked. Of course a woman could be president. Though, of course, knowing that is quite different from its actually happening.

Anyway, I am glad a woman, and a presidential one, too, finally got nominated.